Some people really get into the holidays. From fake spider webs and scarecrows to witchy window decals and the ubiquitous carved pumpkins, Halloween is now starting to rival Christmas in terms of just how serious people are about their festive decor.
Take Ric Griffith of Kenova, West Virginia, for example. The 69-year-old pharmacist and former mayor of the small town is now famous for the truly mind-boggling tradition of illuminating his yard each October with thousands – yes, THOUSANDS – of carved pumpkins.
And you thought getting all the gunk and seeds out of one was hard!
Griffith can’t say exactly how it all came to be, just that he kept adding more over time.
“It’s one of those things that there was no intent or plan,” he told TODAY Home. “It just evolved out of a variety of factors and the response that people had to it.”
He now has 3,000 pumpkins in his yard.
“I have three daughters and when they were young, they and their friends would help me carve pumpkins for the house,” he said.
Eventually, he decided on 3,000 – roughly the population of the town. But 3,000 is also the number that will fit on the property.
Of course, he can’t possibly carve all those pumpkins himself. It’s a community endeavor.
This year on Oct. 19, volunteers began showing up at the house to contribute to the town’s Halloween tradition. A core group of 20 people plus anyone who can come along spent 16-19 hours per day carving 400-500 pumpkins a day.
“It’s organized chaos,” Griffith said. “But every year it works.”
To make it easier, Griffith said he draws a design on about 95% of the pumpkins beforehand. Kids are in charge of scooping and the adults do the carving. His wife Sandy keeps the team fueled with snacks.
Over the years, themed sections have evolved so that Griffith doesn’t necessarily have to come up with 3000 separate designs. For example, there’s a section with all of the U.S. presidents and one that is simply full of cats. (The “cat choir” also has a meowing soundtrack in the background and you can see a video of it here.)
As you might imagine, the elaborate display draws people from all over. Even international visitors have been known to make a side trip to the small town to see Griffith’s house.
“Locals take great pride in it, and then there are people from around the country who plan fall trips and include it on the route just so they can see it. It’s really something,” said Tyson Compton, president of the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Every year, Griffith is happy to let people mill around his lawn without paying a penny just to check out the pumpkins.
According to West Virginia Tourism, the pumpkin house gets an estimated 30,000 visitors each year. During crowded evenings, people have to park a few streets away and walk to the house.
It’s all a far cry from the 5 pumpkins the family displayed when their daughters were little back in 1978.
Be sure to scroll down below to see the house in all its glory.
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